Altman Scholar Amanda Verdi pictured with her fellow Boren Wolof Scholars.
Today is the day – the day I leave to embark on my study abroad adventure. It feels like I have been working toward this moment for years. Once I decided on my study abroad location, my life took a fairly dramatic turn. I switched my Altman target language from Italian to French and applied for the Boren Scholarship that would eventually change the course of my past few months. I spent the last two summers in 8-week domestic language intensives, one for French, and one for Wolof; all in anticipation for my arrival tomorrow morning in Dakar, Senegal.
I will be studying abroad with CIEE in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and home to the westernmost point on the African continent. I will be combining my love for politics and economics with my interest in the developing world by taking classes such as Development Economics and Democracy in West Africa. I will also, of course, be improving my language skills. All of my subject matter courses will be taught entirely in French, and I will continue my Wolof study both inside and outside of the classroom.
As someone who has lived mostly speaking and hearing only English in my day-to-day life, I am a little nervous for the linguistic immersion I will be experiencing in Dakar. Despite my extensive preparation, I am worried that I will not ever be able to express myself fully and with as much personality in French or Wolof as I can in English. But, I am certainly up for the challenge, and I am so incredibly excited for every part of this experience. I cannot wait to see what Senegal has in store for me. Ba beneen! (Until next time!)
Hi, Altman Blog! If you’re reading this, it’s most likely because you’re grading me or because you are a family member who was emailed this link and now feels an obligation to stay up to date with my life in order to keep Christmas from getting uncomfortable (earlier than usual). If you don’t fall into either of these categories and I am just a stranger on the Internet to you, let me introduce myself. (Also, thank you for reading this! I’m shocked and flattered! Add me on Facebook unless you are a predator of some kind!)! I’m Molly, and I’ll be spending the fall of this year studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. More specifically, I’ll be taking business and language courses at ICADE, the business school at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in the heart of the city. At Tulane, I’m earning dual degrees in Management and Communications, as well as a Spanish minor. I plan to spend this semester traveling as much as I can and becoming intimately familiar with each type of bread available to me in Europe. Also, studying. (Academics, do not lose hope! This is a scholarly blog!!) Spending four months in another country is like nothing I’ve ever done before, and there’s a lot running through my mind before this semester begins.
My top few emotions about this new adventure are as follows: Excited. Horrified. Uncertain of what to wear. A little sad. I will start at the beginning of this list and work my way to its unfortunate end, much like a hopeful child who dreams of becoming a finger painting astronaut who eats candy for dinner every day but then grows up to wear pantsuits and work in a cubicle from which they are asked to remove all pictures of their cats.
Excited. I can’t wait to be in Spain. I was in Madrid for a few days in high school and I loved it. I’ve been learning and semi-confidently speaking Spanish since the seventh grade, so I don’t think language will be the thing that causes me the most embarrassment during my four months away from Tulane. Also, I love feeling like I know everything, so I can’t wait to get to know the city well enough to give recommendations and stop using a map. (Also, I am bad at using maps. I am excited to prove that I do not need them.) Beyond Madrid, I am absolutely thrilled to begin traveling to places I’ve spent years only dreaming about.
Horrified. I am so, so nervous about this trip. I’m nervous about being overwhelmed by the classes I’m taking, because I’m not at all sure how they’ll be structured. I’m nervous about the possibility of an act of terrorism putting my own life, or the lives of my friends and family who are also abroad, in danger. (This is the fear that keeps me up at night and caused me to cry in the passenger seat of my best friend’s car. It’s a fear I don’t like thinking about, and one that I can’t write about anymore.) I’m also afraid of getting lost and then being late to school and then realizing that I have no pants on! (This would probably only happen in a dream, but still!)
Unsure of what to wear. My mom bought me a jumpsuit, you guys. A FLORAL JUMPSUIT. It looks cute, but where do I wear that?! I’ve been told that students at ICADE tend to “dress up a little” for class, as if that will make all fashion choices simple. I have done my best to prepare a wardrobe that will make me look as dissimilar to a homeless grandfather as I can. We’ll see how this goes.
A little sad. Not to be all “My sophomore year was better than yours,” but, my sophomore year was amazing and you should be a little jealous. Because I’m so confident that I made the right choice in coming to Tulane, I’m feeling a noticeable loss when I think about the fact that everything that is New Orleans to me will be so far away. (But also, I’m going to Europe! New Orleans will be fine for four months! I have FaceTime!)
That was a long blog post! I’ll try to be less long-winded in the future, but until then, wish me luck! New Orleans, friends, family, countrymen, I’ll miss you more than I can say. Also though, I have bread to eat and Spanish to speak and pictures to take and then post on social media so my mom can see! Despite the fear and uncertainty, I cannot wait to begin this adventure. Talk to you soon.
It is hard to believe that I will be departing for my semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina a few short weeks from now. After four semesters of Spanish and Latin American Studies course work, six years of Spanish language instruction, and two decades of day dreaming of traveling the world, I finally stand at the precipice of a spectacular, once in a lifetime adventure. Of coarse I have my fears, but I am confident that spending my junior fall abroad will not only expand my world view, but allow me to form interpersonal relationships that will anchor me to Latin America and springboard my academic and professional careers.
After weighing all of my SLA abroad options, I decided to attend the IFSA Butler Argentine Universities Program. I chose this program specifically for its homestay element and the ability to directly enroll in local colleges to take classes with Argentinian students. Electing a homestay rather than a dormitory will allow me to completely immerse myself in Argentine culture and establish my own family abroad while perfecting my Spanish language skills. I will also be taking classes at several different universities in Buenos Aires as an international student. Taking courses with Argentinian students without the safety net of other Tulane or American students in the classroom will force me to reach out to my Argentinian teachers and peers and build an academic network that will persist far beyond my semester abroad. As an employee of Red Bull North America, I am most excited to expand my professional network by connecting with Red Bull South America’s Buenos Aires team. Between developing my scholastic and professional networks, polishing my language skills, and attempting to absorb everything the amazing city of Buenos Aires has to offer, I don’t think I’ll have a spare second to be homesick. Adiós Los Estados Unidos, hasta pronto Argentina!